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Monday, August 4, 2008

McCain's jokers are at it again.

Today, it's a bit in which the Republican's campaign responds to Obama's new ad slamming McCain for being Big Oil's bitch.

They chose to answer by mocking a comment Obama apparently made last week regarding proper tire inflation's connection to better gas mileage, and subsequently, conservation (watch the comment here).

Apparently, the Republicans think this is hilarious - so much so that they've hurried into mass production tire gauges with "Obama's Energy Plan" on the side, distributing them at Obama's energy speech in Lansing, MI today. They're also available for a donation of $25 or more on McCain's thingamajig on the Internets (use The Google to find it). In their e-mail solicitation, the McCainiacs get it all wrong:
"John McCain says we need offshore oil drilling and we need it now," says campaign manager Rick Davis in an email to supporters. "Senator Barack Obama has consistently opposed offshore drilling - calling it a "gimmick." Senator Obama's solution to high gas prices is telling Americans to make sure their tires are inflated."

McCain piles on:
"Yesterday, he suggested we put air in our tires to save on gas," McCain said. "My friends, let's do that, but do you think that's enough to break our dependence on Middle Eastern oil? I don't think so."

But as the Politico's GOP blogger, Jonathan Martin, notes, that isn't Obama's position (shocker!):
That's not his "solution" at all, and this latest gambit will surely bring yet more head-shaking disappointment from some quarters about McCain resorting to juvenile tactics.

But it seems increasingly clear that McCain is committed to the sort of aggressive and mocking campaigns that Republicans have been running against Democrats for years.

But let's forget politics for a moment and return to the facts.

McCain and his posse feel that minding the air level in your tires is a laughable suggestion when it comes to conservation of oil. Well, I've known since I was 16 how to check the air in my tires, and it wasn't to avoid getting a flat - I knew back then, literally a half a lifetime ago, that tire maintenance helps you save gas.

And I'm not alone: some of McCain's supporters know this, too. Guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and vice-presidential contender Charlie Crist. Leagues like NASCAR, a "sport" (ahem) that is cheered on by millions of voters in McCain's wheelhouse - folks that might know a thing or two about a car and thus, aren't likely to be swayed by this. (Think the birthday boy regrets not having invested in a car now?) Even Bush's own Department of Energy seems to think it helps.

But was Obama correct? Were the lessons I learned as young driver all for naught?

Jake Tapper put it to the test (and redeems himself):
The idea that inflating tires would help is not disputable...

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "every pound per square inch of tire underinflation wastes 4 million gallons of gas daily in the U.S." Survey information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 27% of the cars on the road have a significantly under-inflated tire.

Obviously, Obama wasn't arguing that inflating tires would reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil -- but he was saying such a move would save as much energy as drilling for oil in the continental shelf would provide.

Tapper has much more on this in his column, but the point is made.

It seems that this latest appeal of McCain's, intended for us "elitists" that actually care more about the environment than they do the price at the pump, will backfire (pardon the automotive pun).

Forget what's written on it: you've just handed the voters a tool that they very well may actually use and, befitting McCain's obsession, has Obama's name on it! Granted, everyone gets the joke, ha ha. But folks may use this to, you know, actually gauge their tires once in a while, and they'll be looking right at Obama's name when they do it. Not McCain's. Jokes wear thin. Name recognition is forever.

(Especially that of oil execs holding McCain's puppet strings.)

Ezra Klein had the most interesting take on this:
It's sort of rare that you see the sickness of our political culture on such clear display as in this flap over Obama's offhand comment suggesting that folks fully inflate their tires.

Fundamentally, though, it's a good reminder that politics is like the Kiwanis or the Moose Lodge: It's a social club that justifies its existence by pretending that it's actually about community service and the public good. But it's really just another venue where a bunch of folks get together with their friends and work desperately to make sure they're in on the day's joke. Obama's comment on tire pressure was one of those interesting moments when the joke collides with the ostensible purpose of the club, and you get to see which motivation is stronger.

Obama seems not to think this is so funny. Thank God for that.


  • Here's the above-referenced Obama energy speech from earlier today:


    Blogger Don said...

    John McCain, bless his heart, really has no idea how to properly run a campaign against someone of Obama's nature. So, sadly, what McCain has appeared to do is listen carefully to Obama's campaign and crack jokes about things that are relatively true.

    A wise man once said: he who laughs last got the last laugh. LOL.

    August 4, 2008 at 7:52 PM  

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